Upcoming Fort Hill Events

Here are a couple of events you won’t want to miss if you like our neighborhood history.

First up, the annual Jazz at the Fort concert series returns to Highland Park after last year’s construction on Sunday, August 3, at 5PM.  This year’s headliner is the Jaleel Shaw Quartet. Get all the details at the Berklee website here:  http://www.berklee.edu/events/jazz-fort-jaleel-shaw-quartet 

And on Monday, August 11, from 5:30 to 8PM, you won’t want to miss your one and only chance to tour the newly renovated Alvah Kittredge House and learn about Mr. Kittredge and his house.  The event will be hosted by HBI and the bill says that Mayor Walsh is planning on attending. The first tenants will move in soon, so this don’t miss this one!  See the flyer at this link or RSVP here.

aurimasmb said: What's the story of the beautiful (somewhat dilapidated) mansion on the corner of Highland and Hawthorne streets, just across from Beech Glen St.?

That house belonged to David Hodgdon, who made a fortune in clothing and textiles.  I wrote it up a while back: http://forthillhistory.tumblr.com/post/15100678539/who-was-david-hodgdon

Tour the Standpipe!

May is National Historic Preservation Month, and the City of Boston is celebrating with events in every neighborhood. The one that is most interesting to us is undoubtedly this one:

Friday, May 30, 2:00-3:00 – Restoring the Fort Hill Standpipe (Rapunzel’s Tower)

Tour and informative session regarding recent renovations to the Fort Hill Standpipe, led by City of Boston Property and Construction Management Department Project Manager Leo Murphy.

Free and open to the public.

Contact Alistair Lucks – Alistair.lucks@gosbon.gov / 617-634-3400

Hope to see you there!

The Story of our Mile Markers, as told by the Globe

Last week, the Globe ran a nice story on the history of the mile markers in Boston. Our neighborhood is fortunate enough to have two of these from the 1700’s, the Parting Stone in Eliot Square and the 3-mile marker just down Centre across from Gardner.  Most of these were installed by Paul Dudley, one of Roxbury’s many famous Dudleys.

The story also included this map showing the location of all the mile markers around Boston.  If you’ve never taken the time to stop and visit the Parting Stone or Mile Marker 3, make sure you do next time you’re walking around the neighborhood!

Patriots Day Events

Join the Roxbury Collaborative in celebrating Boston’s role in freeing the American colonies from British Occupation. On the third Monday of April, begin your day with a buffet breakfast at the UU Urban Ministry/First Church in Roxbury at 8am. Historic speeches will follow and at 10am., you will be able to witness a re-enactment of William Dawes’ horseback ride from Roxbury to Lexington and Concord. 

The William I Brown Memorial Scholarship will be presented to high school students who have demonstrated civic engagement in the community, and a local resident will receive an Unsung Hero Award. The day’s events end with a free one hour trolley tour of Roxbury. Those not wishing to take the tour can instead enjoy open house visits to the Dillaway-Thomas House, the Shirley-Eustis House, and Eliot Burial Ground.

Here are the events taken straight from the flyer:

Monday April 21, 2014


10 Putnam Street, Roxbury, MA 02119

(Intersection of Roxbury, Dudley and Centre Streets)




 (8:00 AM – 9:00 AM)

Free Buffet Breakfast and

Ralph F. Browne Jr. Unsung Heroes Awards


 (9:00 AM – 11:00 AM)

Warren I. Brown Memorial Scholarship Presentations

William Dawes Ride Re-enactment by the National Lancers

Historic Recitations and Dawes Send-off

Historic Talk

11:00 AM

Trolley Tours led by Thomas Plant and State Representative Byron Rushing of Historic Sites in Roxbury


All Events Are Free


Other Historic Sites Open on this Date:

Eliot Burial Ground - Washington and Eustis Streets Governor Shirley Mansion - 33 Shirley Street

Dillaway-Thomas House 183 Roxbury Street


Honoring the history and culture of the Roxbury community

Sponsors and Supporters of the Roxbury Collaborative Including:


National Lancers; 272nd  Veterans Association; Anne Bancroft, UUUM; Ruth Brown, Cheryl Brown-Greene,David L. Ramsay/Patrick E. Toy VFW Ladies Auxiliary  #8772; Marcia Butman, Roxbury Historical Society; Charles Clemons, Touch 106.1 FM; Elaine Corbin, Humanistic Guide Inc.; Janet Fillion, Boston Latin Academy; Discover Roxbury; Linda Evans, Rev. Roger Peltier, , Unitarian Universalist Urban Ministry at the First Church Roxbury; State Representative Gloria L. Fox; Historic Boston Inc; Ret. Lt. Paul Hughes and the Madison Park High School JROTC; Paul Keough, Deputy Commissioner of the City of Boston Veterans Services; Lloyd King, Roxbury Action ProgramKathy Kottaridis, Historic Boston; Bill Kuttner, Shirley-Eustis House; Lisa Cooke, Antonio Menefee, DCR; Thomas Plant, Roxbury Highlands Historical Society; Representative Byron Rushing, Roxbury Historical Society; Cynthia J. Santos Fletcher, Daughters of the American Revolution; Jumaada Abdal-Khallaq Henry Smith, A Nubian Notion, Inc.; Joyce Stanley, Dudley Square Main Streets; Deborah Thomas, Colored Ladies Christian Relief Association; Ralph Walton,Unitarian Universalist Congregation at First Church RoxburyUnitarian Universalist Society of West Newton; Benny White, The 54th Massachusetts Volunteers Militia Company A Re-enactors;

and other friends and supporters of the Roxbury Collaborative.

Community Meeting about Roxbury Historic State Park improvements 3/24 6PM

As I mentioned in a previous post, DCR will be putting $2 million into the Dillaway-Thomas House and surrounding Roxbury Heritage State Park in a fast-track construction project this year.  There’s a public meeting to discuss this next Monday - this is your chance to provide input on what types of amenities you’d like to see in this park and find out more about the project.

Details from the flier:


Roxbury Heritage State Park Community Visioning Workshop

Monday, March 24, 2014 – 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM 

Roxbury Community College Student Center, Building 4, Second Floor, 1234 Columbus Avenue, Roxbury 

At this meeting, the public will have an opportunity to provide input into the development of a vision for the future of the Roxbury Heritage State Park, by identifying project goals for the Roxbury Heritage State Park Signature Park Project. These will include desirable improvements to, and activities at, the Dillaway-Thomas House and Roxbury Heritage State Park, as well as what and whose stories to commemorate through exhibits.

Happy Evacuation Day!

It’s Evacuation Day, which means that once again we’re celebrating Fort Hill’s role in helping to boot the British out of Boston.  Universal Hub was the first to publish this great pic from the BPL Flickr page showing the fortifications at Dorchester Heights.  This is where the cannons that Henry Knox, after designing the fort that gives Fort Hill its name, ended up after he lugged them all the way down from Fort Ticonderoga (including bringing them right through Eliot Square). Oh, and happy St. Patrick’s Day, too.

Even if it doesn’t feel like it from our subarctic temperatures, it’s March! That means Evacuation Day, which celebrates the day we drove the British out of Boston and our neighborhood’s crucial role in that event.  As happens every year, there will be events around Roxbury to commemorate the occasion, including a visit by State Rep. Gloria Fox and some Minutemen reenactors to the top of Fort Hill at 11AM on Monday, March 17th.

Here are all the details, from the press release.  Raise a glass of porter or cider to George Washington and Henry Knox to celebrate!

Evacuation Day Heritage Celebration, Monday, March 17, 2014

BOSTON, MA: State Representatives Gloria Fox, Nick Collins, The Shirley-Eustis House, The National Park Service, The Lexington Minutemen and the Evacuation Day Heritage Committee cordially invite you to the celebration of Evacuation Day, Monday, March 17, 2014.

The ceremonies begin at 9 a.m. with the annual Evacuation Day Mass at St. Augustine’s Chapel, the oldest Catholic Church in the Boston Archdiocese. At the conclusion of the Mass, we will proceed to Dorchester Heights, where General Washington placed artillery in 1776 to force the British out of Boston.

The annual Historical Exercises at Dorchester Heights will begin at 10 a.m., featuring the Lexington Minutemen, the South Allied War Veterans Council„ the children’s choir from the South Boston Catholic Academy, the Allied War Veterans, and the Major General Henry Knox Lodge of Freemasons. The commemorative exercises with the South Boston Allied War Veterans Council will include remarks by elected officials and award-winning author, Nathaniel Philbrick as well as Boston National Historical Park Deputy Superintendent Rose Fennell. The Allied War Veterans will lay a wreath to honor the men and women of South Boston in the armed forces, and the Minutemen will fire a salute.

The National Park Service rangers and volunteers at Dorchester Heights will be available to provide information about General George Washington’s arrival in Massachusetts in July 1775; the transportation of cannons by Henry Knox from Fort Ticonderoga, New York, to Massachusetts; and the construction of the Dorchester Heights fortifications. After the exercises take place at Dorchester Heights, the Boston National Historical Park rangers will conduct a hands-on archaeology program from 11 a.m. to 12 noon, where visitors can dig through two boxes of material to simulate the work that was done on the site in the 1990’s when a 200-foot-wide star-shaped earthwork was uncovered. There also will be ranger talks about the historical significance of the site and information about the replica British 18-pounder (shot weight) cannon of the Armstrong-Frederick pattern of 1760 which eventually will be displayed at Dorchester Heights.

State Representative Gloria Fox will host the Historical Exercises at Fort Hill, in Highland Park, Roxbury, beginning at 11 a.m, with ceremonies by the Minutemen and local elected officials. This fortification, designed by Henry Knox, prevented the British from breaking out of Boston during the siege. Washington was so impressed with Knox’s ability at designing and constructing this fort, he put Knox in charge of American artillery. These two fortifications, at Roxbury and South Boston, were crucial to the first American victory in the War for Independence.

State Representative Gloria Fox will then host a free luncheon at the Shirley Eustis House, 33 Shirley Street, Roxbury, immediately following the Historical Exercises at Fort Hill. The Lexington Minutemen will fire a salute, and Major General Knox himself will make an appearance.

Following the luncheon at the Shirley-Eustis House, author Nathaniel Philbrick will give a short talk on his latest book, “Bunker Hill.” Copies will be available for purchase and signing.

For more information, please contact the Shirley-Eustis House at 617-442-2275 or email governorshirley@gmail.com.

$2M planned for Roxbury Heritage State Park

Here’s a piece of good news. Mass DCR will be putting $2 million into the Dillaway-Thomas House and the surrounding state park to finally complete the vision originally laid out for the park decades ago.  Here’s a link with more info

Briefly, the project will restore the property, add exhibits and an archaeology lab, and restore the landscaping and grounds of the park to promote public use. There will be a public meeting announced soon, and the project is fast-tracked with an expected completion date of December this year.

The state park master plan was set out in 1987 but the recession in the early 1990s stopped the work and the full vision has never been completed.  This is a major step forward in the long and storied history of the house. Combined with the recent upgrades to Highland Park, the upgrades to Kittredge Square Park, and the renovation of the Kittredge House, Highland Street is booming from one end to the other! 

Black History Month: Henry Hampton

I covered the basics of Fort Hill’s black history in a post for Black History Month 2 years ago.  But of course, there’s much more to the black history of Fort Hill than I could ever fit in a single post.  What better way to learn about black history than to celebrate one of our neighborhood’s most prominent black historians, Henry Hampton of Blackside Media

Mr. Hampton, although born in St. Louis, lived much of his adult life at the sprawling compound on Lambert Street now occupied by Garden Girl Patti Moreno and her husband Robert Patton Spruill.  With Blackside, he became one of the nation’s top minority documentary film-makers.  His groundbreaking Eyes on the Prize documentary series is the definitive history of the Civil Rights movement. If you haven’t seen it, you owe it to yourself to pick up a copy of the series on DVD.

Besides Eyes on the Prize, he was also the producer of many other critically acclaimed documentaries including Malcolm X: Make it Plain. For his work, he was awarded 14 honorary degrees, including one from Northeastern. He was also the recipient of dozens of awards, not least of which were 7 Emmys, an Oscar nomination, the Heinz Award, and many others. And as if that wasn’t enough, he was the Chair of the Board at the Museum of Afro-American History and served on the board of several other charitable organizations.

This black history month, why not tie in a Fort Hill connection by learning about black history through one Mr. Hampton’s many documentaries? You can start for free by watching Make it Plain on YouTube, or get yourself a copy of Eyes on the Prize from PBS.